Be careful when providing your Social Security information.

United States citizens are legally obligated to have a social security number (SSN) to keep a record of their earnings and as a monitoring device of any social security benefits paid under the program. A SSN has also become a convenient identifier of individuals for different record-keeping organizations in the United States. A citizen can legally request for a different SSN for several reasons, including religious or cultural objections, identity theft or in cases when more than one individual has received the same SSN, and/or situations of harassment, abuse or life endangerment.

Religious or Cultural Objections

Complete Form SS-5, also known as the Application For A Social Security Card (see the link in the Resources section).

Take the completed Form SS-5, along with proof of your identity, and religious and/or cultural evidence to support your claim for a new number, to your local Social Security office.

Answer truthfully during the in-person interview, citing your reasons for a new SSN, and the agency will process your request.

Identity Theft, or Similar SSN

Review your Social Security statement, or Form SSA-7005, workers 25 years or older receive by mail each year if you believe someone else is using your SSN. (You can also request this form by calling 800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.)

Report any discrepancies to the Federal Trade Commission via its website (see link in Resources section) or by calling 877-438-4338, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via its website (see link in Resources section) or by calling 800-908-4490.

Complete Form SS-5, and take it, along with any evidence pertaining to your identity theft and proof of identity, to your local Social Security office, which will process your request.

Harassment, Abuse or Life Endangerment

Complete Form SS-5 explaining the type of harassment and reasoning for a new SSN.

Bring Form SS-5, evidence of harassment and/or abuse and current SSN along with any other proof of identity, including any name change documentation, to your local Social Security office.

Explain your reasoning for the new SSN in relation to your evidence during the interview process, and the agency will process your request.